Monday, 23 November 2009

Lawyer seeks bail for alleged Thai spy

Published: 23/11/2009

(CAAI News Media)

Lawyer for Sivarak Chutipong, a Thai engineer who was arrested by the Cambodian authorities on charges of stealing flight schedule of Thaksin Shinawatra and supplied it to the Thai embassy, filed a bail request for him to a Cambodian court on Monday, Foreign minister's secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said on Monday.

It usually take a Cambodian court about 10 days to consider whether to grant a bail or not, he said.

Mr Chavanond said it would be up to the Cambodian court whether to grant the bail.

He refused to say when Mr Sivarak would get bail, adding that government spokesman Panithan Wattanayakorn's comment that Mr Sivarak could be granted bail in the next 10 days was his personal opinion.

Kao Soupha, the Cambodian lawyer for Mr Sivarak, said the bail request was filed to the Cambodian court on Monday morning, and assured the court that Mr Sivarak would not return to Thailand before his trial.

According to Mr Kao, Mr Sivarak had confessed to court officials that he told a Thai diplomat about Thaksin's flight.

"Sivarak said he reported the information because the Thai diplomat asked him for it," he said.

Mr Sivarak informed the Thai official after Thaksin's private jet landed two weeks ago, and had not known that Thaksin was in that plane, he added.

But the lawyer said that his client said the information was not secret and not stolen.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said on Monday that the government would seek the extradition of Mr Sivarak to serve out his punishment in Thailand if the Cambodian court finds him guilty,

But Mr Pirapan said he was certain that Mr Sivarak was innocent.

Justice deputy permanent secretary Thawee Sodsong and chief of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department Suwanna Suwanchuta will travel to Cambodia on Monday evening to visit Mr Sivarak, he said. The two senior officials would also request a meeting with the Cambodian justice minister to discuss the legal aspects of the case.

Mr Sivarak must receive fair treatment from Cambodian law, which must conform to international legal standards, he added.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva assured that Mr Sivarak's mother would be able to visit her son at a Cambodian court this week.

He also said opposition Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's comment about the Cambodian government banning Thai fishermen from entering its territorial waters is just a joke.

"The Cambodian government is appointing a new governor of Kong Island, causing a slight delay in issuing permits to Thai trawlers," Mr Abhisit said.

The closure had nothing to do with the Thai-Cambodian diplomatic relations, he said.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the Foreign Ministry, the Internal Security Operations Command and other relevant agencies had already looked into the matter.

The Kong Island governor's appointment must be finalised before permits can be issued again, Mr Panitan said.

"All sides, including the Thai navy, have affirmed that this is a transitional period and it would not take long," he said.

He said the government will see what it can do so the Cambodian counterpart can issue permits to the fishermen promptly, but it would have to wait until the governor's appointment is completed.

Asked if the government is concerned that Cambodia may decide to close its territorial waters longer than usual, he said both sides had cooperated well on the operational level.

Different ministries from the two countries had been working together smoothly, he added.

He said officials from the foreign and justice ministries will travel to Phnom Penh in the next few days to seek ways for the Cambodian government to release the Thai engineer, Sivarak Chutipong, who was arrested on a spying charge earlier this month.

On the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's daughter plan to hold shares in Cambodia Traffic Air Services, Mr Panitan said the government will not comment on Cambodia's internal issues.

"Changes of shareholders are normal in all companies in every country and the Thai government will not comment on Cambodia's internal affairs. This is not an important issue for us," he said.

He said the government hoped that the Cambodian government would continue to facilitate Thai companies and investors in Cambodia as usual, as these investments would bring about progress and benefits to the people of Cambodia.

Navy chief Khamthon Phumhiran reaffirmed that Thai fishermen could not enter Cambodia's territorial waters at the moment was due to the appointment of a new governor of Kong Island.

"The Thai-Cambodian political dispute is not related to the closure of Cambodia' maritime territory," Adm Khamthon said.

He said it should be opened soon after the governor's appointment is completed.

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